The Word “Decimation” Needs to Stop Being Used!

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The Word “Decimation” Needs to Stop Being Used!

I feel strongly about the word “decimation.”  Obviously, this can be inferred from the title of this post.  But why?!  Well, I’m so very happy to tell you, all three or four of you that are smart enough to read this blog that is.

When the word “decimation” is used, it’s usually meant to describe a great slaughter or massacre.  Decimation has been used as an adverb for so long that it frustrates me because it’s actually a verb.  I know that sounds nerdy and all but wait…it gets even nerdier!

Decimation was a practice in the Roman Army to assure compliance to orders, recover lost honor, and to maintain military discipline.  Huh?  You ask.  You’re curious about what exactly I’m talking about.  Good.  Let me continue then.  In the instances that a Roman Army unit failed to follow orders or showed cowardice…or was unlucky enough to be chosen to be made example of, a decimation was called for.  The unit would step forward and count off by tens (or lots were drawn – a lottery so to speak) and then that so very lucky one out of ten (“deci” in decimation means ten, with us all remembering our prefixes and such) would then fall on their swords to recover their honor.  So what of the other 90% that weren’t part of the decimation?  Well…they continued on.  Now a 10% loss is a bummer but it is not complete devastation.  Not by a long shot.

So long story short…and I could go on and on about this, because the history is very interesting and all concerning Roman Army discipline and such, but I will end my diatribe here.  (Sigh of relief for you I know.)  Please go on now with the knowledge that a “decimation” is only one-out-of-ten and not the entire village, country, planet or whatever cataclysm is being described with such exhilaration.

Cheers and Out.

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